You have all seen the ads for all of the products, pastes, and creams that claim to give you brilliant, sparkling, dazzling white teeth.
No doubt white teeth make for a more attractive smile, make you look good, and feel better about yourself. But with the glut of tooth whitening products on the market, how do you know which will really work?
The answer is simple – ask your dentist.
Only a dental professional can evaluate your teeth and develop the most comprehensive and effective tooth-whitening program for you. Successful dental tooth whitening may include office visits, home whitening kits – or any combination thereof.
Your dentist can develop a tooth-whitening program to fit almost any budget or lifestyle.
Dental Tooth Whitening Works
In the wake of dubious claims by many home, or over-the-counter products, know this – dental tooth whitening works. Just about everyone who chooses to see a dental professional about cosmetic tooth whitening will achieve a substantially brighter and whiter smile.
However, understand that even the most effective professional whitening procedure is not permanent, and will require touch-ups from time to time.
Is Tooth Whitening the Same Thing as “Bleaching?”
Let’s define some terms. You probably have heard of both teeth “whitening” and teeth “bleaching”. These are not the same thing, though they are sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably.
Teeth bleaching technically refers to any process that takes teeth beyond the whiteness of natural color. According to the FDA, the term can only be applied to products that actually contain bleach, such as hydrogen peroxide.
“Whitening” on the other hand, technically can refer to any process that removes surface dirt and debris from teeth and makes them “whiter.” By its truest definition, even ordinary toothpaste is a “whitener.”
Most of us start out with a set of perfectly sparkling white teeth. The enamel that covers teeth is what gives them their original white luster. Tooth enamel is there to protect teeth from the ravages of chewing and the effects of sugars and acids.
Over time, enamel wears down and allows more of the core material of teeth called dentin, to show through. Dentin is yellow in color, and this, along with dirt and debris that settles into the cracks left by worn enamel, is what gives teeth a more yellow and dingy appearance.
What Makes Teeth Discolored?
Discolored teeth are basically stained. Teeth develop two types of stains: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic stains are those caused by tobacco use, normal wear, and tear, and/or exposure to dark foods and beverages like teas and coffee. Minor extrinsic stains can be removed through routine brushing. Deep extrinsic stains are most responsive to professional whitening and bleaching techniques.
Intrinsic stains form on the interior of teeth and are caused by trauma or exposure to certain minerals. It was once believed that bleaching could not be effective on intrinsic stains. However professional grade products used by cosmetic dentists have been shown to whiten intrinsic stains.
Exactly What Is Professional Tooth Whitening?
Your dentist will use one or more methods to whiten your teeth. In-office whitening can achieve dramatic results over a short period of time. The dentist or dental technician will carefully use a highly concentrated bleaching gel that is applied to the teeth at 15-minute intervals, usually for a period of one hour.
The dentist may then ask you to follow up with an in-home professional gel kit. Particularly stubborn or deep stains may require subsequent in-office treatments.
If immediate results are not what you are looking for many dentists recommend the professional in-home gel kits alone – for achieving effective whitening over a long period of time.
Unlike over the counter bleaching kits or products, these kits use professional grade bleaching gels. They also use bleaching trays that are custom fit to the patient’s mouth, making them far more effective.
Who doesn’t want whiter, more attractive teeth? But with so many whitening methods to choose from – it is easy to fall for gimmicks, and the false claims of whitening products whose results are often temporary at best.
The surest way to be confident that you are using a proven effective technique is to see your dentist and get it “white” the first time.